LOWELL, Mass. -- On Wednesday, February 25, Congresswomen Lori Trahan, a new member on the House Armed Services Committee, visited the University of Massachusetts Lowell, where she learned about the university's Harnessing Emerging Research Opportunities to Empower Soldiers, or HEROES, program.

HEROES is a joint program with the Combat Capabilities Soldier Center, or CCDC Soldier Center, located in Natick, Mass. The program brings together collaborative partnerships with academia and industry to support small businesses in developing applications that impact the protection, performance, agility and sustainability of Soldiers.

During her visit to the HEROES Center, located in Olney Hall, Trahan, who is the U.S. Representative for the third congressional district in Massachusetts, was educated about how UMass Lowell and its partners are better protecting U.S. Soldiers in combat. Some of the efforts Trahan learned about included Army food safety efforts, advances in protective clothing, and the Marine Corps program.

"What the students do here has great applications for our Soldiers," said Doug Tamilio, director of the CCDC Soldier Center. "Some UMass Lowell students go on to work for Natick, another benefit of the relationship."

Congressman Trahan stated that her grandmother came from Portugal to work at the textile factories in Lowell. She felt her visit was a "great opportunity to see things up close, touch it and feel it. Nothing tells the story more than seeing it in action."

Michael Manser, a former BS and MS student at UMass Lowell, began working at the CCDC Soldier Center as a co-op scholar in the HEROES program in 2014. He received a Science, Mathematics and Research for Transformation, or SMART, Scholarship and worked at CCDC Soldier during the summer while he was attending UMASS Lowell.

Manser started working fulltime at Natick in May 2018.

"I'm very grateful for UMass Lowell and HEROES," said Manser. "Being able to start as an intern and continue on through to become fulltime gave me a lot of excellent experience and helped me get a head start."

Jacquie Moloney, chancellor of UMass Lowell, stated that UMASS Lowell's collaboration/partnership with the Army and the CCDC Soldier Center is very much needed.

During the visit, UMASS Lowell students -- who are studying to become civil, electrical and mechanical engineers -- showcased their efforts, which align with the mission of the Army Futures Command, or AFC. CCDC Soldier Center is part of AFC, an organization that reflects the Army's modernization effort and is committed to Soldier readiness.

"Collaborating with students keeps us fresh for future threats," said Dr. Charlene Mello, chief scientist at CCDC Soldier Center.

"It's great to see a lot of innovation with the public and private partnerships here in this room and so close to home," said Trahan.

Trahan promised she will continue to be an active partner, pushing for funding for these innovative programs that are critical for the economy and national defense. She also stated that she wanted to come and tour/visit the CCDC Soldier Center in Natick very soon.